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Nov 16, 2022

Dredging Concerns Allayed, Port Loyola Residents Need Jobs

The approval of an environmental and social impact assessment for the proposed expansion of the Port of Belize Limited which will include a cruise terminal in Port Loyola, is now in the hands of the National Environmental Appraisal Committee, NEAC, following a final round of public consultations on Friday in Belize City.  Tonight, we’ll revisit the concerns that were raised by the public, as well as the economic benefits of having a shore side berthing facility in Belize City.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Approval for another cruise ship docking facility to be constructed in the Belize District harbor has been a long-drawn-out process for the principals of Port of Belize Ltd.  The addition of a marine terminal is part of a comprehensive plan to modernize existing services being offered by the company.  To put it into context, agreements between parties or states that aim to keep trade deficits to a minimum often require upgrading basic public services.


Allan Herrera

Allan Herrera, Local Environmental Consultant

“Almost all of these bilateral agreements have things to do with improving infrastructure and at the heart of that is upgrading port facilities.  And so, it follows that the developer, Waterloo, has an obligation, it’s not just that they feel like doing it, they have an obligation to develop these infrastructures and that is what they want to do and they want to develop it with the long-term view in  mind.  And therefore, they want to create for this country a very modern, progressive facility that is future proof and will take us along the road of development for the next fifty or so years.”


Should the project be given the green light, massive dredging will occur just off the southern coast of Belize City, in Port Loyola.  Removing material from the seabed has remained a primary concern for residents, as well as environmentalists, who have raised relevant questions at previous public consultations. Allan Herrera, an environmental consultant working on the project, explains.


Allan Herrera

“In the area of Port of Belize, this is not the first dredging operation.  One dredging operation took place in 2002 and it’s not only at the Port of Belize.  Dredging has taken place at the mouth of the Haulover Creek, dredging has taken place at the mouth of the Belize River.  So Belize City is used to dredging.  Dredging has taken place in this area many times.  And again, the heart of it is that the developer simply wants to deepen and widen the access channel and the turning basin and he doesn’t want to do any dredging because he just wants to do dredging.  He does it because it’s a core necessity of this project in the sense that we want to be able to receive vessels that are more modern and these vessels that are larger.”


Among the questions asked following the presentation, is the availability of jobs for residents in the community.


Nikolai Alvarado

Nikolai Alvarado, Executive, BLAST

“After this port is built, half the people in this room or one-third will actually be employed in that port and I could guarantee you that, because if you go right now to the Fort Street Tourism Village, there is a port there.  Majestic Alley is right in front of it, how many of them are employed inside of the port?”


At a previous public consultation held on September first, representatives of Waterloo had indicated that priority would be given to residents of Port Loyola where employment opportunities are concerned.  Jelle Prins, the project lead for this proposed development, supports that position.


Jelle Prins

Jelle Prins, Project Lead

“When it comes to jobs, if you have an island destination, if you will, not a lot of employment is necessarily generated on that destination.  But when you have shore side berthing in a community where people need jobs, people need higher wages, people need socio-economic benefits, what you often find is not only do cruise passengers disembark at higher percentages, they also spend more time on shore and they spend more money in the community.  So the unique value proposition of this project is that we do indeed bring a lot of jobs to the community because we bring the jobs to that community.”


When all is said and done, for residents of Port Loyola and, by extension, Belize City, employment and economic opportunities remain their primary concern.


Henry Cunningham

Henry Cunningham, Resident, Port Loyola

“My thing is mih come on and really wah ask the government or the environment or maybe even these guys because a lot ah uno I hya deh against the port but honestly I mean like weh dih guys dey seh the port bring revenue for the people. None ah uno live back ah port or nuh know weh they port people go through you understand. Things like this create jobs for people basically and creating jobs for people will benefit the people and their kids. None ah uno kids guh tha school weh part dey people kids dey guh tha school. We dih talk about the hurricane wah bring this and dih hurricane wah bring that latta dey people nuh have house right now. I sure all ah uno house good. Why dey people can’t live the way uno people live? Mek dey mek dey money, uno can’t stop dey people from do that. Nobody else wah create job back ah port, nobody wah invest money back ah port. Dey people invest dey money back ah port. Left dey mek dey invest dey money. Create jobs job fi people. Thanks”


Isani Cayetano for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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